Feature Scotus

Published on June 30th, 2012 | by RLn Staff

0

SCOTUS Decision on Health Care Law–Was it Really a Victory?

By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision finding the Democrats’ health-care reform law constitutional has been a source of confusion from the very beginning, when CNN and Fox News both mis-reported the decision as striking down the law. In fact, Chief Justice Roberts only said that he found the individual mandate (requiring people to buy health insurance) was not supported by the Commerce Clause of the Constitution—since people would be taxed for not engaging in commerce.

From a purely constitutional law perspective, this move was strange on two counts. First, because it depended on a wholly new legal distinction—that between economic activity and inactivity—which existing precedent specifically rejects. (Farmers growing wheat for their own consumption have been found to be subject to the Commerce Clause—Wickard v. Filburn.) Second, because—as Stanford law professor Robert W. Gordon put it, “Roberts didn’t need to say anything about Congress’s commerce power,” since he did find it constitutional under Congress’s taxing power—an argument made by Solicitor General Donald Verrilli during oral arguments on March 27.  Verrilli was widely criticized for his performance that day, as he seemed unprepared for the ferocity of conservative attacks on the law.  But in the end, his taxing authority argument prevailed, even though it went against the political posture of the President. 

Adding one more twist to Roberts’ already quirky, questionable opinionNorthwestern law professor Paul Campos, writing at Salon, argued that Roberts had only changed his mind at the last minute—citing textual evidence in the conservative dissent, including more than a dozen references to Ruth Bader  Ginseberg’s opinion as a dissent—which it would have been if Roberts had sided with the conservative dissenters.

If this sounds to you like a state of pervasive confusion, you’re right. But it’s only the beginning. No one really knows what Roberts was doing or why, and whether or not his decision will have much impact on future cases. Some see his decision as refuting claims that he’s a partisan ideologue, others see it as a Machiavellian political move, designed precisely to seem non-ideological, while still advancing the conservative agenda—although opinions differ about how. “He made it a point to affirm the once-radical arguments that animated the conservative challenge to the legislation. But then he upheld it on a technicality,” Ezra Klein wrote for the Washington Post.  “It’s as if an umpire tweaked the rules to favor his team in the future, but obscured the changes by calling a particular contest for the other side,” Klein concludes, quoting conservative Red State blogger Erick Erickson, “John Roberts is playing at a different game…. We’re on poker. He’s on chess.”

Yet, it’s not really clear if Roberts’ ruling will have much impact, given the unique circumstances of the health care law.  Others think Roberts is more concerned with other issues.  “Next year, Roberts is almost certain to lead majorities to strike down the Voting Rights Act, which will help southern states suppress the votes of poor, black, and Latino voters; and to gut what remains of affirmative action in higher education, among other things,” Gordon pointed out. These are things only the Court can safely do politically, while a Romney presidency could not only undo health care reform, but also further pack the court with extreme conservatives. This would be an even more Machiavellian than Klein imagines. While Roberts’ limitation of the Commerce Clause was itself limited, the same isn’t true of the conservative dissent. Add just one more extreme conservative, and their arguments could overturn the entire New Deal political world—Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, federal labor and environmental law, etc., etc., etc., again, something that only the Court could safely do politically.

Many people don’t buy this, of course. On the one hand are conservative activists, media figures and politicians, outraged by what they see as a betrayal by Roberts, whom they now regard as a traitor to the conservative cause. On the other hand are those praising Roberts for his statesmanship, and deriding those who have seen him as a conservative ideologue. This latter group seems blissfully unaware that they are helping to make the case for Roberts’ Machiavellian genius.

Why is everyone confused on so many different levels?  Why is there so much chaos and uncertainty? No doubt there multiple different reasons, but one of them certainly is that the conservative legal challenge—focused primarily on the individual mandate—was widely seen as frivolous and ridiculous a mere three years ago, a viewpoint that’s still widespread within the constitutional law community today.  As Yale law professor Jack Balkin explained at the Atlantic website well before the decision came down, “[I]n three years’ time, the argument that the mandate violates the Constitution has moved from crazy to plausible,” a shift he also characterized as going from “off-the-wall” to “on-the-wall”, which he then explained: “Off-the-wall arguments are those most well-trained lawyers think are clearly wrong; on-the-wall arguments, by contrast, are arguments that are at least plausible, and therefore may become law.”

Such a change isn’t unheard of, Balkin explained. Arguments against racial and gender discrimination are classic examples that went from being “off-the-wall” to “on-the-wall”—but that  took generations, not just three years.

So how did such a rapid shift take place? It all turns on “judgments by legal professionals about what is reasonable” which in turn “depends in part on what they think that other people think”.  In a highly polarized political climate this only had to happen within the conservative Republican universe, a point that’s only implicit in Balkin’s article.  But the actors he cites in the process are conservative intellectuals (“including lawyers and legal academics”), social movements (“the Tea Party”), and establishment politicians/the party system (“Thus, the single most important factor in making the mandate opponents’ constitutional claims plausible was strong support by the Republican Party, including its politicians, its affiliated lawyers, and its affiliated media.”)

The individual mandate was originally a conservative Republican idea.  It originated with the Heritage Foundation. It was the Republican’s counter-plan opposed to Clinton’s employer mandate (employers had to provide health insurance).  And, of course, it formed the foundation of RomneyCare in Massachusetts. But as Democrats dropped their own more ambitious plans (including Medicare For All and the public option) and moved to embrace the Republican individual mandate, Republicans fled from it in horror, erasing all memories of their past.

No wonder there’s been so much confusion on so many different levels. If you’re not confused, you’re just not paying attention.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


About the Author



Leave a Reply

Back to Top ↑
  • Toberman Gala: April 4th

    Toberman Gala: April 4th
  • The Guide to Fine Dining

    The Guide to Fine Dining
  • Calendar

    March 2015
    S M T W T F S
    22 23 24 25 26

    Category: EntertainmentToledo Show

    27

    Category: EntertainmentToledo Show

    Category: CommunityJewelry Making Class

    Category: TheaterBeyond the Valley of the Flight Attendants

    Category: EntertainmentSoul Sacrifices

    Category: EntertainmentHell Ride

    28

    Category: EntertainmentKomedy Slam

    Category: TheaterBeyond the Valley of the Flight Attendants

    Category: EntertainmentDave Widow and the Line Up

    Category: TheaterStop Kiss

    Category: EntertainmentCircus of Sin

    1

    Category: Art35th Annual Quilt Show

    Category: TheaterStop Kiss

    2

    Category: ArtArts, Media Capstone Exhibitions

    3

    Category: ArtArts, Media Capstone Exhibitions

    4

    Category: ArtArts, Media Capstone Exhibitions

    Category: CommunityLittle Squirts

    Category: CommunitySea Club

    5

    Category: ArtArts, Media Capstone Exhibitions

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtFirst Thursday Artwalk

    Category: CommunityKlaus Center for the Arts Opening

    6

    Category: ArtArts, Media Capstone Exhibitions

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtFirst Thursday Artwalk

    Category: EntertainmentTrio Celeste

    Category: EntertainmentBatala Los Angeles

    Category: TheaterBeyond the Valley of the Flight Attendants

    Category: EntertainmentLauren Koval, Michael Ragonese Trio

    Category: TheaterStop Kiss

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: TheaterThe Real Thing

    7

    Category: ArtArts, Media Capstone Exhibitions

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: TheaterThe Penis and Vagina Talk Shows

    Category: TheaterBeyond the Valley of the Flight Attendants

    Category: TheaterCirque Mechanics

    Category: TheaterStop Kiss

    Category: TheaterThe Real Thing

    Category: EntertainmentTrio Eclectic

    Category: TheaterThe Penis and Vagina Talk Shows

    8

    Category: ArtArts, Media Capstone Exhibitions

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: EntertainmentInna Faliks

    Category: TheaterStop Kiss

    Category: TheaterThe Real Thing

    Category: EntertainmentJohn York

    9

    Category: ArtArts, Media Capstone Exhibitions

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    10

    Category: ArtArts, Media Capstone Exhibitions

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: ArtLuminous, Transparent, Realistic Watercolor Workshop

    11

    Category: ArtArts, Media Capstone Exhibitions

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: EntertainmentBettman and Halpin

    12

    Category: ArtArts, Media Capstone Exhibitions

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: EntertainmentBettman and Halpin

    13

    Category: ArtArts, Media Capstone Exhibitions

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: EntertainmentPiano Nights with Rob Klopfenstein

    Category: TheaterBeyond the Valley of the Flight Attendants

    Category: EntertainmentPaddy Keenan

    Category: TheaterStop Kiss

    Category: TheaterThe Real Thing

    14

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: EntertainmentMusic Under the Guns

    Category: TheaterBeyond the Valley of the Flight Attendants

    Category: EntertainmentCash’d Out

    Category: EntertainmentDoug MacLeod CD Release Party

    Category: TheaterNa Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu

    Category: TheaterStop Kiss

    Category: TheaterThe Real Thing

    15

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: EntertainmentDavid Sanborn

    Category: TheaterStop Kiss

    Category: TheaterThe Real Thing

    Category: EntertainmentA Spoonful of Sherman: A Symphonic Concert

    Category: EntertainmentSherman Brothers

    Category: EntertainmentBlues Alive

    Category: EntertainmentSunday Jams

    16

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    17

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: ArtLuminous, Transparent, Realistic Watercolor Workshop

    18

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    19

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    20

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtBest of Show and Small Treasures

    Category: EntertainmentPiano Nights with Rob Klopfenstein

    Category: TheaterBeyond the Valley of the Flight Attendants

    Category: TheaterThe Real Thing

    Category: EntertainmentDoug C and the Blacklisted Hillbilly Stomp

    21

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityCivil War Lecture Series

    Category: CommunityWestern Museum of Flight Lecture Series

    Category: EntertainmentMarkus Carlton

    Category: TheaterBeyond the Valley of the Flight Attendants

    Category: EntertainmentDale Fielder

    Category: TheaterMarilyn Forever - A Full-Length Opera

    Category: TheaterThe Real Thing

    Category: EntertainmentSeduction

    22

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: TheaterThe Real Thing

    Category: EntertainmentL. Young

    23

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtHyung Mo Lee - Lessons Learned

    24

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtLuminous, Transparent, Realistic Watercolor Workshop

    25

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityBirding at George F. Canyon

    Category: EntertainmentWicklow Atwater, James Hanicutt, & Hangdog Hearts

    26

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityCelebrate the Eighth

    27

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: EntertainmentPiano Nights with Rob Klopfenstein

    Category: TheaterBeyond the Valley of the Flight Attendants

    Category: EntertainmentCarl Verheyen

    Category: TheaterThe Real Thing

    Category: EntertainmentThe Naughty Show

    28

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityNature Walk with L.A. City Rangers at White Point Nature Preserve

    Category: CommunityAttracting Birds and Bees to Your Garden

    Category: CommunityGathering for the Grand

    Category: CommunityWisteria Regale

    Category: EntertainmentMarkus Carlton

    Category: TheaterBeyond the Valley of the Flight Attendants

    Category: EntertainmentBruce Baker & The Altered Presence Jazz Band

    Category: EntertainmentNoise Fest XVIII

    Category: TheaterThe Real Thing

    Category: EntertainmentCircus of Sin

    29

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityComplete Whale Watch with Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

    Category: EntertainmentJanis Mann & Bill Cunliffe Duo

    Category: ArtSecond Sight: New Representations in Photography

    Category: TheaterMarilyn Forever - A Full-Length Opera

    30

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    31

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtLuminous, Transparent, Realistic Watercolor Workshop

    1

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    2

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtFirst Thursday Artwalk

    3

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtFirst Thursday Artwalk

    Category: EntertainmentPiano Nights with Rob Klopfenstein

    Category: EntertainmentSister Spit National Tour

    4

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

  • Like Us On Facebook!

  • Take a Trip to Havana

    Take a Trip to Havana
  • Join the RLn Network

    Subscribe Today:


    Options


  • Get Home Delivery!

    Get Home Delivery!
  • Reset The Net: Protect Your Privacy

    Reset The Net: Protect Your Privacy